Young arts talent to fore

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A performing arts school holiday programme is helping bring Timaru’s young talent to the fore.
Youngsters aged between 9 and 14 gathered at The Playhouse last week, keen to build on their performance and stage skills through Rob Martin Productions International.
Lessons, provided by Rob Martin and writer-director Catherine May Smith, were part of the Winter Theatre Performance School, which attracted 21 children. They completed their week of activities with a public show for friends and family on Saturday.
Mr Martin was impressed by the children’s willingness to learn, which was evident by day two, when the youngsters had already mastered three of the five songs they had to learn.
He regards the group as ‘‘possibly the strongest’’ to go through the programme so far, of which there have been three to date.
‘‘They are amazing — [they have] so much energy,’’ Mr Martin said.
‘‘Anyone can enrol, of all abilities and we play to the strengths of the kids. They all end up doing everything,’’ he said.
‘‘And, wanting to by the end of the week,’’ Ms Smith said.
The programme complements a school programme, offered on Monday afternoons, called Stage and Sing. The programme covers all aspects of performance arts, including acting, singing, circus arts and mime, among others.
A Spring Singing School, Summer Theatre Performance School and Autumn Acting Academy would also be offered during school holidays, each with a different emphasis.
Mr Martin has performed and worked in six countries and was also working on bringing shows designed for children to schools in New Zealand and Australia.
Ms Smith has a Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts degree. Last week, she was balancing her responsibilities to the Winter Theatre Performance School with her role as director of Mamma Mia!, which is now being performed in Timaru.